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Employees today place increased value on opportunities for professional development– in particular, the ability to be able to envision a clear career trajectory and to have people within the organization that help to make that a reality. Because of this, many companies are beginning to place more emphasis on soft skills training.

The most obvious way to make this happen is through mentorship. Mentorship gives employees the opportunity to connect with one another meaningfully. Employees that participate in mentorship tend to have higher job satisfaction, increased job efficacy, and upward mobility in their careers.

This all sounds great, but what exactly makes someone a good mentor? Mentorship goes much deeper than simply having a more senior employee preach to a more junior employee about how to achieve career success. A good mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street that fosters both professional and personal connections.

Attributes of a Good Mentor

  1. Wants to share relevant knowledge and expertise. Having a wealth of experience, knowledge, and expertise is obviously important, but what good is it if the mentor keeps that information close to their chest? Good mentors have not only a willingness but a keen desire to share this information. They possess empathy and understand what it was like to be just starting out in their career or field. This drives them to pay it forward, so to speak, through mentorship.
  2. Displays positivity and enthusiasm. Mentorship is not a chore, and a good mentor does not view it as such. They view it as a privilege to engage with their mentee. They have a genuine excitement for being a mentor, and this shows in their positive attitude and enthusiastic communications between meetings.
  3. Doesn’t shy away from providing honest and constructive feedback. Yes, mentors should be positive. But that doesn’t mean they should avoid providing honest feedback. If a mentor simply pats the mentee on the back and tells them they’re doing great, the mentee will not grow as an employee and as a person. Mentors should feel comfortable with pushing the mentee out of their comfort zone. At the same time, it is important that all feedback has a positive bent, and is constructed so that the mentor walks away with positive steps they can take to improve. 
  4. Has the ability to exhibit active listening skills. A mentoring relationship where the mentor speaks and the mentee listens is incomplete. Without listening to their mentee, how will a mentor know how to truly help to guide them in the right direction? A good mentor knows how to demonstrate active listening. Active listening means listening to truly understand, and not simply waiting for a turn to respond.
  5. Views the mentoring relationship as an opportunity to learn. Of course, mentors do have more experience and expertise than their mentees. But mentors having a high-and-mighty attitude doesn’t help anyone.  A good mentor knows that they have much to learn from their mentee as well. They make a point to show that they are openly enthusiastic about doing so.

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